Robert L. DilenschneiderRobert L. Dilenschneider

True patriotism is not manifested in short, frenzied bursts of emotion. It is the tranquil, steady dedication of a lifetime.

--Adlai Stevenson

Today we celebrate Independence Day, the 242nd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

The political significance of the holiday has waned, and it is now mostly a day of fireworks, picnics, parades, family reunions and many other forms of commemoration.

All that is important and we hope you have a good time.  But please do take a moment in these challenging times to reflect on the significance of the day, since how we handle the months ahead will define the long-term future so important to our nation.

The following facts may be of interest:

  • The Declaration of Independence began as a letter to King George III to explain why the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain.
  • It was on June 7, 1776, at a meeting of the Continental Congress in the Pennsylvania State House that Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.
  • On July 2nd the Continental Congress voted nearly unanimously in favor of Lee’s resolution—New York initially abstained, but later voted yes.
  • John Adams believed July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence and would reportedly decline invitations to July 4th events.
  • The White House held its first July 4th party in 1801.
  • The Declaration has only left the capital twice. The first time was when the British attacked Washington during the War of 1812, and the second was during World War II when it was stored at Fort Knox from late 1941 until the fall of 1944. 
  • Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the national bird, but was overruled by John Adams, who recommended the bald eagle.
  • Due to concerns about cracking, the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846.  Every year it is tapped 13 times in honor of the original 13 colonies to signal the country’s bells to start ringing.
  • "Yankee Doodle," one of the nation’s most popular patriotic songs, was sung prior to the Revolution by British military officers who mocked the “Yankees” with whom they fought during the French and Indian War. 
  • On Independence Day 2017, Americans spent $7.1 billion on cookouts and picnics.
  • Everyone knows the phrase “as American as apple pie.” But only one variety of apple is actually indigenous to North America—the crabapple. European settlers brought many other varieties, along with the original apple pie recipe.
  • While burgers and hot dogs are the order of the day, the Founding Fathers celebrated with turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas and boiled potatoes, followed by Indian pudding.

As we celebrate July 4th with family and friends, take a moment to be thankful for those who forged the path to our nation’s independence.  Though we are making our way in a world that is more challenged than ever, we are still a nation that believes in striving for the best and making the world a better place. That is something we should never lose sight of.

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Robert L. Dilenschneider is founder and chairman of The Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations and communications consulting firm headquartered in New York City. The former CEO of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., he is also author of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling “Power and Influence.”